Tuesday 20 August 2019

Man with BB gun sparks mass stampede at gay pride parade amid shooting fears

Watchful: A policeman on duty at the parade in Washington
Watchful: A policeman on duty at the parade in Washington

Michael Balsamo

A man threatened another person with a BB gun during an LGBT pride parade, triggering a massive panic that sent hundreds of people running away in fear.

Aftabjit Singh (38) was arrested on weapons possession and disorderly conduct charges after the incident in the Dupont Circle neighbourhood of Washington DC, where thousands of people packed the streets to celebrate in the city's annual pride parade.

Although no shots were fired, hundreds of people ran from the area, knocking down metal police barricades and running into stores, fearing a gunman had opened fire on the revellers.

Seven people were taken to hospital for injuries they suffered while fleeing.

Inside a small park in Dupont Circle, Singh pulled the BB gun on another person who was "hitting on his significant other", according to a police report. People began running from the area and police keeping watch over the festivities heard revellers shouting there was a man with a gun.

As the officers got closer, someone in the crowd pointed to Singh and said he had a gun in his bag.

An officer stopped Singh and noticed what appeared to be a silver handgun sticking out of his brown bag that was underneath a tree, it was reported.

The weapon turned out to be a BB gun, police said.

As he was led away in handcuffs, Singh vowed to come back and shoot the person he claimed had threatened him, police said.

Organisers decided to shut down the parade for the night but said they would not allow the scare to ruin the pride celebrations.

The group that organises the event said it had spent extensive time planning security procedures.

Guillermo Rivera, a commander with the Metropolitan Police Department, said the department had an "adequate amount of resources on the ground, which is why we were able to respond so quickly".

Singh is expected to appear in court today.

Irish Independent

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